Hector Pieterson's sister slams generation Z

1976 activist Antoinette Sithole.
1976 activist Antoinette Sithole.
Image: Gallo Images

As SA marks 42 years since the June 16 1976 Soweto uprising, those who took part in mass demonstrations have voiced concerns at the "carefree" attitude of today's youth.

In 1976, young people protested against the introduction of the Bantu Education Act, where Afrikaans was made the medium of instruction.

Activist Hector Pieterson was one of the first to be killed when police opened fire on protestors. His sister Antoinette Sithole believes there are many issues the youth of today could tackle.

"I don't understand what is going on with the youth. It seems as if they don't have any challenges as young people when there are so many issues," she said.

"Women and children are being raped and killed. They must take a stand to say we are sick and tired that our mothers are being killed. They must stand up and deal with issues."

Sithole said the youth know what happened in 1976.

"I don't think the cause that Hector died for means anything to the youth of today. I really don't," she said, adding that the issue of two different education systems is worth the youth's attention.

"I don't really understand what is going on with our education. Why are there two different public education systems? Why are the schools in the cities different from the schools in townships?"

Sithole said today's generation has adopted an "it's not my problem" attitude and blamed that on the lack of transformation.

Sithole was captured in the 1976 iconic picture by late lensman Sam Nzima, running alongside Mbuyisa Makhubu, who was carrying a shot and dying Hector Pieterson.

Abe Matlou, who was in matric in 1976, said the youth must understand that they were marching for the next generation of black pupils.

"Remember, the introduction of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction was going to start from Grade 8. So, we were not affected as such, but we said whatever is going to happen is for the sake of our next generation," he said.

According to Matlou, young people must identify issues affecting them and take a stand against those social issues, such as drug abuse. "Young people must stand up and say this issue is affecting us. They know where young people get these substances ..."

This article has been edited to correct the headline. The previous headline incorrectly referred to the youth as ‘Generation X’.

The Sowetan newspaper took Youth Day literally and challenged its young journalists by giving them charge of the Youth Day edition of the paper. Look over their shoulder to see what it took to put the paper together.

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